Honoring An American Hero
On October 30th 1945, President Harry Truman presented Master Sergeant Nicholas Oresko with the United State’s highest military decoration- the Medal of Honor. Oresko earned the prestigious award for his actions earlier that year on January 23rd when he single-handedly destroyed two German bunkers near Tettingen, Germany despite serious injury. Not bad for a recently turned 28 year old (birth date January 18th, 1917) from Bayonne, NJ.
For his courageous acts and national heroism, in July 2010, Bayonne School #14 was renamed Nicholas Oresko School in his honor. In January 2011, when fellow Medal of Honor recipient Barney F. Hajiro passed away, Oresko was bestowed with yet another title- oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.
It would take most of us five lifetimes to build up the type of resume Nicholas Oresko did in one. Below is transcribed his official Medal of Honor citation. For his full rank and organization, click here.
Citation: M/Sgt. Oresko was a platoon leader with Company C, in an attack against strong enemy positions. Deadly automatic fire from the flanks pinned down his unit. Realizing that a machinegun in a nearby bunker must be eliminated, he swiftly worked ahead alone, braving bullets which struck about him, until close enough to throw a grenade into the German position. He rushed the bunker and, with pointblank rifle fire, killed all the hostile occupants who survived the grenade blast. Another machinegun opened up on him, knocking him down and seriously wounding him in the hip. Refusing to withdraw from the battle, he placed himself at the head of his platoon to continue the assault. As withering machinegun and rifle fire swept the area, he struck out alone in advance of his men to a second bunker. With a grenade, he crippled the dug-in machinegun defending this position and then wiped out the troops manning it with his rifle, completing his second self-imposed, 1-man attack. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused to be evacuated until assured the mission was successfully accomplished. Through quick thinking, indomitable courage, and unswerving devotion to the attack in the face of bitter resistance and while wounded, M /Sgt. Oresko killed 12 Germans, prevented a delay in the assault, and made it possible for Company C to obtain its objective with minimum casualties.
On October 4th, 2013, Oresko passed away at the age of 96 during surgery in Englewood. Oresko was born, lived, and died in New Jersey and we are proud to call this national hero one of our own. For his valor and service, Mr. Oresko’s funeral service will be held at the Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre on Bergen Community College’s main campus in Paramus.
Nicholas Oresko deserves a tribute befitting a man of his courage and decoration and the large theater at BCC will allow for the over 3,000 mourners to thank him for his selfless service during the Battle of the Bulge and to honor and remember him as a member of the Bergen County community as well as a state and national hero.
The service will be held at 1pm on Thursday October 10th, 2013.